Political analyst Bill Schneider said on Monday that there’s a difference between Senate confirmation hearings and legal trials when it comes to Supreme Court nominees.
“The Republicans on the committee followed a strategy that they may try to follow again this time. They turned the confirmation hearings into a trial,” Schneider, a professor at George Mason University, told Hill.TV’s Joe Concha on “What America’s Thinking,” referring to Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation process.
Anita Hill in 1991, during Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, alleged that Thomas sexually harassed her. This week, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will face allegations during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that he sexually assaulted a woman in the 1980s.
“The reason was, Americans get trials,” Schneider continued. “The result was that the question became: Could Anita Hill prove that Clarence Thomas was guilty of sexual harassment? Most people concluded that she didn’t prove her case, and to vote against Clarence Thomas in 1991 meant politically that you thought he was guilty.”
“Most members of the Senate were not willing to reach that conclusion because the case hadn’t been proved,” he said. “This was not a trial. If he’s not proved guilty of sexual harassment, that doesn’t mean he belongs on the Supreme Court. It’s a confirmation hearing. It’s about his qualifications for the court, not his past behavior.”
Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1991 and continues serving to this day. But the hearings have echoed on Capitol Hill as Kavanaugh faces two sexual misconduct allegations.
Christine Blasey Ford went public recently with allegations against Kavanaugh, claiming that he held her down, groped her and attempted to take her clothes off at a high school party in the early 1980s.
She and Kavanaugh are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
The New Yorker reported on Sunday that Senate Democrats were looking into a new allegation against Kavanaugh dating back to his freshman year at Yale University in the 1980s.
Deborah Ramirez said Kavanaugh exposed himself in front of her during a party at the university.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
— Julia Manchester
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